As we wrap up Chapter 3 in AHA, Pastor Idleman recounts the story of Jonah, who received the assignment from God to go and preach at Nineveh. The problem was, he did not want to accept his assignment; he wanted to go anywhere but Nineveh.
The city had a rep. Scripture from the Book of Nahum describes Nineveh as “the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims!…Many casualties, piles of dead, bodies without number, people stumbling over the corpses.” Would anyone want to go there?
What did Jonah do? He went in the opposite direction, to Tarshish, literally 2,000 miles in the opposite direction. Can anyone say “The Distant Country”?
God was not too happy. As Jonah travelled in the opposite direction God sent a vicious storm and everyone on the boat thought that life was about to be over except, you guessed it–Jonah. Jonah was asleep below deck. He is about to be killed and he is sleeping through the storm.
Pastor Idleman does not put this story in his book to fill pages. It is the perfect example of what we do; we sleep through the storms in our lives. We ignore, we delay, we gloss over, we think the problem will go away but it won’t. It will remain and in many cases it will get worse.
For you folks who may view this blog, you know I am from Kentucky as Pastor Idleman is. When he talked about going to the Kentucky State Penitentiary, I know about this place. Ok, stop. I have never been on the inside, but I have driven by there and am fascinated by how it looks, like a “Castle on the Cumberland River” which is how many refer to it. Indeed it looks like a castle with a few added features, like razor wire. My brother-in-law worked there as a guard and social worker his whole life. One of the most important men in my life Chuck Dickerson made a speech in my speech communication class on “The Castle” and to this day, I have never forgotten Chuck or that speech.
So when Pastor Idleman wrote about “The Castle” I perked up. He wrote about a time when he went to the penitentiary [which by-the-way is a maximum security facility] and spoke to inmates. An inmate came up to him with Bible in hand and spoke to him after his presentation, spoke to him about the fact that he was doing things God’s way now. Pastor Idleman hugged the man and told him how proud he was of him. This man was sleeping through the storm in his life until he finally woke up, in a maximum security prison. He said “I just wished it hadn’t taken being sent here for me to come to my senses.”
Thinking about him, thinking about me–I cried.